The cabbage soup diet is a short-term weight loss diet.
As the name implies, it involves eating large amounts of cabbage soup.
Proponents of the diet say it can help you lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a week.
But many health experts warn that the diet is not healthy and its results are unsustainable.
This is a comprehensive review of the cabbage soup diet and whether it works or not.
What is the diet of cabbage soup?
The cabbage soup diet is a fast weight loss diet. Supposedly, following the diet for seven days can lead to a weight loss of up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg).
The diet works exactly as it sounds. For seven days, you eat almost nothing more than homemade cabbage soup. Each day, you can also take one or two other foods, such as skim milk, fruit or vegetables.
Many sources claim that the diet does not work by acting as a diet of starvation, but because cabbage is such a low-calorie food that your body ends up burning more calories to digest it than the cabbage itself.
Therefore, the more soup you eat, the more weight you lose.
The diet is meant to last no more than a week at a time, in order to lose weight before an event or start a longer-term diet plan.
The Cabbage Soup Diet is also known by other names, such as the Sacred Heart Hospital Diet or the Mayo Clinic Diet, presumably because it was developed in a hospital for rapid weight loss before surgery for cardiac patients .
But the hospitals involved have denied these claims.
No one knows exactly where this unique diet originated from. In the end, the consensus seems to be that it first gained popularity during the 80s and 90s and has been maintained ever since.
Bottom line: The cabbage soup diet is a one week weight loss diet that promises to help you lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg).
How to make the cabbage soup diet
Homemade cabbage soup is the basis of this diet.
To begin with, you need to prepare large amounts of soup to eat throughout the week.
The ingredients vary depending on the source, but this is the basic recipe:
The Cabbage Soup Recipe
- 2 large onions
- 2 green peppers
- 2 cans of tomatoes
- 1 bunch of celery
- 1 head of cabbage
- 3 carrots
- 1 package of mushrooms
- 1-2 cubes of broth (optional)
- 6-8 cups of water or vegetable cocktail like V8
- Chop all the vegetables in cubes.
- In a large pot, sauté the onions in a small amount of oil.
- Then add the remaining vegetables and cover with water or a cocktail of vegetables and add cubes of broth or other seasonings, if desired.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat. Let it simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30-45 minutes.
You can season the soup with salt, pepper, hot sauce, herbs or spices. You can also add other non-starchy vegetables, such as spinach or green beans.
Every day you should eat as much cabbage soup as you want, at least for several meals. Supposedly, the more soup you eat, the more weight you will lose.
Rules of the Diet
Each day of the diet, you are allowed to fill one or two lower calorie foods in addition to the soup. However, it is important not to make other substitutions and drink only water or other non-caloric beverages, such as sugar-free tea.
A daily multivitamin is often recommended because diet can limit nutrient intake.
These are the rules for each day of the cabbage soup diet.
- Day one: Unlimited soup of cabbage and fruit, but not bananas.
- Day two: Only soup and vegetables. Focus on raw or cooked leafy vegetables. Avoid peas, corn and beans. You can also have a baked potato with butter or oil.
- Day Three: The largest amount of fruits and vegetables you can eat, in addition to the soup. However, today there are no baked potatoes and there are still no bananas.
- Day four: Unlimited bananas, skim milk and cabbage soup.
- Day five: You are allowed 10 to 20 ounces (280 to 567 grams) of beef, which can be substituted for chicken or fish. You can also have up to six fresh tomatoes and unlimited cabbage soup. At least 6-8 glasses of water.
- Sixth day Soup, meat and vegetables. You can substitute beef with grilled fish if you did not yesterday. Focus on the leaf greens. There are no baked potatoes today.
- Seventh day: You can have vegetables, brown rice, unlimited fruit juice, but without added sugar. And of course, cabbage soup.
You should not continue with the diet for more than seven days at a time. However, you can repeat the diet as long as you wait at least two weeks before starting again.
Bottom line: To follow the diet of the cabbage soup, you must prepare large quantities of cabbage soup to eat several times a day. You are also allowed to eat one or two more foods each day.
Does the cabbage soup diet work?
The diet of cabbage soup has never been studied, so it is not possible to really confirm its effectiveness.
However, because the Cabbage Soup Diet is very low in calories, it will probably cause you to lose weight.
Despite the fact that you are allowed to eat unlimited amounts of soup and certain other foods during this diet, the options are so limited and low in calories that it would be very difficult to eat enough to maintain your body weight.
Unfortunately, although the cabbage soup diet is likely to help you lose weight, it is likely that most of that weight will return as soon as you quit the diet.
A big problem with very low calorie diets like this is that when you restrict your calorie intake, or when you lose a lot of weight, your body responds by lowering your metabolic rate, which means that you burn fewer calories per day than you used to. . (1, 2, 3).
Interestingly, this decrease in metabolism is a common cause of weight loss plateaus in long-term diets.
However, your metabolism may begin to decrease after three days of a very low calorie diet. This is often part of the reason why it is so difficult to prevent weight gain after stopping a crash diet (1, 2).
However, very low calorie diets also have some benefits.
When obese people follow very low-calorie diets under the supervision of a physician, diets generally last for 4 to 12 weeks and can cause significant short-term improvements in weight loss and metabolic health (3, 4, 5) .
But some studies have shown that even short-term diets that are very low in calories can temporarily decrease insulin resistance, although they are too short to produce large changes in body fat (6, 7).
Another positive potential of the cabbage soup diet is that you are not forced to go hungry. You can eat as much as you want from the foods that are allowed each day.
The diet also includes many fruits and vegetables, which are low in calories and high in fiber.
Another positive point is that the cabbage soup diet is very cheap to follow.
Unlike other diets that require you to buy supplements or expensive books, this diet only requires you to buy inexpensive ingredients for cabbage soup and some other staple foods.
Bottom line: The cabbage soup diet is very low in calories, so you should lose weight if you can follow it. However, weight loss is usually only temporary.
Disadvantages of the cabbage soup diet
Although the cabbage soup diet may have some benefits and probably help you lose some weight, the drawbacks can overcome them.
One of the main problems with the cabbage soup diet is that it can only be continued for a week, which is not long enough for significant weight loss.
Your body can only burn so much fat per week. In the first week of a low-calorie diet, only about 34% of the weight lost comes from fat (1).
The other two thirds come from water weight loss and muscle mass (1).
This so-called water weight comes from your glycogen stores, which are your body's fast energy reserves. Normally, glycogen binds to water molecules when stored in the body.
When you do not eat enough calories, your body uses stored glycogen as energy and also sheds that extra water (1, 8).
However, as soon as you return to a less restrictive diet, your body will rebuild those emergency reserves and the weight of the water will return, even if you continue with a healthy diet after the end of the Cabbage Soup Diet (9).
Another big problem with the cabbage soup diet is its lack of nutrients.
The cabbage soup diet has so few food choices that it is deficient in many vitamins and minerals and does not offer a real source of protein on most days.
The fact that it is often low in protein also means that it will be more difficult to prevent muscle loss during dieting, which is especially important for maintaining metabolism.
The last drawback of the cabbage soup diet is that it is very soft by nature, which means that it is very difficult to keep it for a whole week.
Many people complain that the cabbage soup is tasteless and unappetizing from the start. Having to eat the same thing day after day may be enough for most people to cheat or even quit before achieving the results they want.
It also requires frequent cooking of large lots to prepare enough cabbage soup to eat throughout the week. This can be an inconvenience for some people.
Bottom line: The diet of the cabbage soup is insipid, difficult to maintain and deficient in many nutrients. Since it only lasts a week, most of the weight that is lost is only the weight of the water and will return once you leave the diet.
Safety and side effects
The cabbage soup diet is not recommended for more than a week at a time because of how restrictive and nutritionally unbalanced it is.
It is a very low calorie diet
Although the diet of cabbage soup is not a starvation diet, food is so low in calories that it would be difficult to reach 1,000 calories per day.
This is below the estimated minimum calories needed to maintain a stable weight. That minimum is typically 1,200 calories for women and 1,500 calories for men, on average (10).
Very low calorie diets of less than 800 calories per day are only recommended for obese people under the close supervision of a doctor.
It may not provide enough nutrients
Low-calorie diets that are used under the supervision of a physician are generally designed to be nutritionally adequate (11, 12).
However, the food choices of the cabbage soup diet are very limited and unbalanced. The diet includes almost no protein for five of the seven days and most days it is also very low in carbohydrates, fats and calories. It is also deficient in many vitamins and minerals.
There is no serious risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies if you only follow the diet for a week, especially if you decide to take a multivitamin. But this does not make up for the lack of calories and proteins in the diet.
As a result, many people in the cabbage soup diet complain of dizziness, weakness and feeling of dizziness during the diet.
Flatulence and cramps
Because this diet is also very high in fiber, many people also complain of flatulence and cramping as important side effects. These effects can even be annoying enough to stop the diet (14).
There have been some anecdotal reports of gallstones and gallbladder blocks in people who used the long-term cabbage soup diet.
Gallstones can be the unintended consequence of any rapid weight loss.
Normally, when you eat foods high in fat, the gallbladder releases digestive juices to help break them down.
However, if you just eat fat, your gallbladder may not empty for long periods of time, so stones are more likely to form inside.
Gallstones may be more common among people who follow a very low-calorie diet or a low-fat diet, such as the cabbage soup diet (13).
Large changes in blood sugar levels
If you have diabetes and are interested in following the diet of cabbage soup, proceed with caution. Low carbohydrate and calorie content can cause large changes in your blood sugar levels.
But for most healthy people, the cabbage soup diet is not likely to have dangerous side effects as long as it is only used for a week, as scheduled.
Bottom line: The cabbage soup diet is not suitable for long-term use because it lacks key nutrients. Despite some uncomfortable side effects, it is probably not dangerous for most healthy people.
Bring the message home
Like other very low calorie diets, the cabbage soup diet can cause weight loss if you can keep it for the entire week.
However, it is only a short-term diet, therefore, unless you make permanent changes in your lifestyle, you will probably regain most of the weight.
In addition, the diet of cabbage soup is extreme and nutritionally unbalanced. Many people also find it unpleasant and difficult to follow.
While this diet can help you lose a few pounds quickly, it is better to try something else if you want to achieve lasting weight loss and better health.
Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/the-cabbage-soup-diet